Removing Skunk Smell From Car

by Chris Stevenson

    Skunk odor ranks high on the scale of unpleasant odors. The smell, activated by the skunk's scent glands, can cause nasal irritation, nausea and watery eyes in the confines of a vehicle compartment. Skunk strikes are common in rural areas, where they are often hit on the road during the night. The problem with skunk smell on and inside the automobile, is that it can last for days or sometimes weeks. Removing skunk smell is not costly, but some labor is needed to fully eradicate the odor from all areas of the vehicle.

    Items you will need

    • Mustard powder
    • Spray bottle
    • Gallon bucket
    • Washing sponge
    • Cabin air filter
    • Distilled white vinegar
    • Baking soda
    • Cat deodorizer
    • Wet-dry vacuum
    • Air freshener sticks (two or three)
    Step 1

    Gather a bucket, spray bottle and a container of mustard powder. Take these items with you to the nearest self car-wash. Use the wash wand to fill the bucket, then add one cup of mustard powder and mix thoroughly. Add the mixture to a spray bottle. Spray the complete underside of the vehicle, making sure to cover the tires, wheel wells, chassis and suspension parts. Perform a heavy soak. If you know the spot where the skunk impacted the vehicle, use profuse amounts of the mixture in that area.

    Step 2

    Open the hood and spray the engine compartment side panels and firewall, but do not spray any electrical items or engine components. Wipe the compartment down with a damp sponge. Spray the undercarriage of the vehicle with the power wand, using the detergent cycle. Rinse completely with the wand. Drive the vehicle home with all the windows down.

    Step 3

    Park the vehicle in the shade. Open all the doors to the vehicle and raise the hood. If your vehicle is equipped with a cabin air filter, remove the old filter. Fill a clean spray bottle with distilled white vinegar. Spray the inside of the air filter compartment and wipe it with a clean sponge. Spray inside the air intake vent, soaking the interior. Install a new cabin air filter. Spray inside the interior air conditioning vents, as far as the solution will reach inside the channels. Wipe away any excess.

    Step 4

    Soak the vehicle interior with the vinegar solution, including the seats, dashboard, side door panels, console and other exposed areas. Wipe the residue off with a damp sponge. Start the engine and turn on the fan blower motor and let run for five minutes. Switch the controls between recirculating and fresh-air modes for an additional five minutes. This will evaporate and cleanse the vent passages.

    Step 5

    Sprinkle equal amounts of cat deodorizer pellets and baking soda on all carpeted areas. Use a whisk broom to both spread and agitate the deodorizer and soda mix into the carpet. Let it sit for 15 minutes. Vacuum the carpet with a wet-dry vacuum cleaner, removing all of the grain residue. Place two or three air freshener sticks below the seats.


    • When convenient, keep all your windows down while driving to fully air out the vehicle. Do this for several days. Run the air conditioner and heater to cleanse the vents.
    • If you find a skunk inside your vehicle do not agitate it. Simply open a door and wait for the animal to vacate the interior.


    • The glandular scent chemicals of a skunk in heavy concentration can cause illness. Upon first realization of skunk odor in the car, get the vehicle home and open all doors and windows. Do not continue to drive.

    Photo Credits

    • Tom Brakefield/Stockbyte/Getty Images